Senior journalist Urmilesh in conversation with Ashok Chaudhary
How easy was it to reach this level in journalism?
I don’t believe that I have reached any level. This is a continuous process. Problems do come your way. I too had my share of problems.
What is the reason that Backwards, Dalits and Tribals have not been able to reach top positions in mainstream media?
The appointing authorities in journalism are not impartial. The whole system is faulty. It is not transparent. For instance, I always say that in every service sector, there are some norms, some system of appointments. They might not be 100 per cent correct or flawless but they are there. In the [Indian] media, there is no system. There are some organizations where tests, interviews, etc. are taken. It is another matter that even these are not impartial. But at most places there are no tests or interviews. Whosoever they want is appointed. It is pick and choose.
And who is picked and who is chosen?
Caste is mostly the criterion. In most of the Indian-language publications its your contacts, relations and caste that matter. This is the key reason. Most of the Indian journalists keep mum on this issue. We people speak. And so do foreign scholars and writers. Robin Jeffrey was very upset when told that no Dalit has, so far, become a top editor or journalist in India. But unfortunately, our own editors and scholars cannot see this discrepancy. I am very surprised that they cannot see it. I always raise the question that when foreign scholars can see the problem why do people of our country keep mum? I want to make this an issue and I am trying to do so. I have raised this question from every forum I could.
Some OBCs have reached senior positions but they were often charged with being incompetent?
No, I believe that they have not reached the top positions in major channels or mainstream media. They may be journalists but they are not decision-makers. Excuse me, but the issue of somebody’s competence or incompetence arises only when he is given full control.
Published in the May 2013 issue of the Forward Press magazine